October 2019

Another busy month when almost nothing got done. I guess when you’re 70 you can slow down. October started with parts for a bed, and several Shaker peg boards.

The Maine craft weekend was early this month, October 5 & 6. It was quite successful, and well attended. Had many friends and fans stop by, to visit, enjoy the cookies, doughnuts and cider, and check out the shop and showroom. Sold a few pieces as well. One of the thrills was the poster from the last Fine Woodworking Live on my shop door.

The following weekend, was the Harvest Festival at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community. It’s always great fun, and despite the chilly weather the attendance was great. Hard to find a parking spot along the road. My setup was in the Shaker barn.


Fall is definitely on the way. Over the years I’ve planted a few shagbark hickories and black walnut trees, and the tallest on is now almost 20 ft. tall.

We did take a few days off to enjoy fall here in Maine. It is my favorite season. Hiked around Wolf’s Neck State Park,

and Bradbury Mountain State Park. The view from up there is spectacular. You can see the Atlantic on a clear day.

Later this month we had Friends of the Shakers work weekend. We raked, cleaned, put things away for the winter, repaired and a multitude of other chores. Also a wonderful lunch, and a chance to catch up with folks I meet but once or twice a year. Consider joining the group if you’re so inclined.

In the shop I finally completed the king size bed I started at the beginning of the month. A three week cold had me slow down to the point where a 40 hour bed ended up taking 4 weeks.

Hopefully things will pick up next month. Don’t forget to check my Instagram page, for more ongoing photos.

Also, I’m trying to make a bit more space in the showroom, so I have several pieces at half price on the Specials page of my website. If you’ve ever wanted a Becksvoort piece, this might be the right time.

C. H. Becksvoort ©2019

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September 2019

Fall is definitely here. September is a month of change. We had our first frost on the 19th. Ash trees are loosing their leaves, red maples are in full color, sugar maples are just starting to turn, and the lovely New England asters are in full bloom.

It has been an amazing month for monarch butterflies. We were out recently in an open field with perhaps 1/8 acre of milkweeds. One plant had 4 monarch caterpillars on it and at any one time there were 3 or 4 butterflies in the air. More monarchs than I’ve seen in years. Good luck on the trip to Mexico.

We took our annual vacation on the coast of Maine, mostly in Trenton and Acadia National Park.

One of the highlights was a long walk around Jordan Pond ( after indulging in popovers), along the wooden plank walk. The shoreline is fragile, and Jordan Pond is a water supply, hence the board walk to keep erosion to a minimum.

We also took a side trip to Lamoine State Park, and to the farther side of Acadia, at Schoodic. Schoodic is much less crowded and extremely scenic, with waves crashing on the pink granite. Took side trips to Lubec, and spent a fair amount of time in Ellsworth, a lovely town, once you get off of Route 1

Although September was extremely busy, I don’t have much to show for it. Between working on my son’s house, my daughter’s house, my sister’s house, and our house, I only managed two projects in the shop: a custom wedding gift

…and a custom display case for the New Gloucester Historical Society.

Hopefully, next month will be more productive, furniture wise.

Don’t forget our annual Open House & Studio on October 5 & 6, from 10 am until 4 pm. The will be a book signing (Shaker Inspiration: Five decades of Fine Craftsmanship), tools, wood and a few pieces of furniture (at reduced prices). Also cookies, doughnuts and cider. Stop by to chat and visit. All are welcome.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

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August 2019

August in Maine. Summer is winding down. It’s been real busy. Word is leaking out that I’m considering retirement. True, but… not this year. Maybe next, or the year after. Time to get your order in, the one you’ve been thinking about for the last few years. Be forewarned that I’m no longer building big cases, only taking orders for smaller items. Here are a few examples of what went out of the shop this past month: First a series of five pen & ink drawings my daughter did for the book With The Grain, each tree framed with the wood of that species.

I made a cherry music stand, VII, with the customer’s favorite verse laser engraved (too small to see in the photos).

I’m currently working on a king size low post bed, with nice egg turnings on the top of each post.

Lastly, I finally had the slant top desk dyed and finished by Jon Brandon at East Point Conservation Studio in Brunswick. An amazing job, just look a that tiger strip maple. The brass hardware is from Horton Brasses.

Around the shop this month, I noticed that the red efts were on the move, crossing our dirt road, and looking for places to spend the winter. This little one was only about 1 1/4″ (3.2 cm) long

In our fields and along the road, the early asters and black eyed Susans are in full bloom. Just waiting for the fall asters to make an appearance.

You can see more everyday photos on my Instagram page. Have a look.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

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July 2019

July was one hot month. The rains stopped and the humidity moved in. Summer is in full swing.

In the garden the peonies have gone by and the clematis is in blooming.

In the fields and woods, the black eyed Susans, golden rods and pyrola are in putting on a display.

We did take a few day off for vacations. The first was a one day trip to Swan Island in the Kennebec river. It is a state park, about 4 miles long, and at one time had about 100 residents.

The following weekend we took a trip to Lubec, the easternmost town in the U.S. A most relaxing and enjoyable time. We had our passports and took the bridge to Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. Had lunch overlooking the water.

My belt sander article made an appearance in Fine Woodworking magazine. It looks great, as usual. Thanks AK and FWW.

July is also the time for Open Farm Day in Maine. As usual, I was at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker village, demonstrating and selling books & DVDs. Lots of wonderful people attended, and we had a marvelous time despite the heat.

In the shop, I actually got some work done. A few small projects; a candle holder, and I repaired a yarn winder.

The big project was the slant top desk in tiger maple. It took just over 180 hours. Not one of my biggest pieces, but quite involved with 4 large drawers, 3 medium drawers, 6 tiny drawers, two document drawers 6 pigeon holes, secret compartments, 3 locks and a full assortment of brass hardware.

The desk is now at the finisher’s shop, waiting to be dyed. The customer has chosen the lightest finish on the left. It took a week but the lid hinges finally showed up, so I could complete the desk.

I’ll have a final photo next month with the new finish and all the hardware.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

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June 2019

It doesn’t get much better than June in Maine. Vacationland. this past month was a bit rainy, and everything turned a lush green: lawns, trees, weeds and flowers including ladies slippers and lilacs.

Even the black cherry trees put on a show, although they don’t smell nearly as good as the lilacs.

We had a few business related items going on this month. I took two pieces down to the KoT Gallery in Ellsworth, a 4-arm walnut chandelier and a carved door wall cabinet.

Ellsworth is such a nice town, once you get off of State street and onto Mains street. We had a tasty time at Fogtown brewery.

I tend to take it easy in the summer, and spend a bit more time enjoying friends, family, the garden and Maine. But work still needs to get done. The current big project in the shop is a tiger maple slant top desk. It features 4 large drawers, three smaller drawers, a lid a door, pigeon holes and two document drawers. Locks, hinges and pulls are all solid brass. It will be close to 200 hours all told. Then off to the finisher for maple dye and varnish.

This past week we had a FWW photo shoot on building and fitting the gallery to the slant top desk. Lots of small fussy work, but it all came together, thanks to Anissa’s photo skills. However, all was not work. We managed to get in a few additional photos for an upcoming FWW article on making a Shaker berry basket. For authenticity, we had to go pick, eat and photograph strawberries. We may even get a short interview out of this, thanks to Ben Strano.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

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MAY 2019

May is always gorgeous. This year was no exception. We had our share of rain, actually more than our fair share. It did bring a wonderful display of flowers. The weather never got out of the 70’s, so the blossoms lasted longer than usual.

The birds returned: phoebes, tree swallows, kestrels, and a variety of warblers. We also had the usual assortment of amphibians. Especially noticeable, and enjoyable were the spring peepers. Also, the salamanders made their way to vernal pools.

In early May I had a chance to give a talk at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA. It is one of my favorite places in Massachusetts, a fully restored Shaker community with that wonderful round stone barn. If you ever get a chance to visit any of the Shaker sites, or even the last existing Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, by all means do so. There is so much history and something to be learned at each of the sites.

Although I’m trying to take it easy, I still got some shop work done. A small dining table went to Furniture Friends.

the better part of the month was taken up with a 7-drawer chest. The sides and top were constructed of a single, wide, cherry board. It only took 82 hours to make.

One more coat of oil, and it’s on to the next project.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

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April 2019

April did not start out too great. Snow and mud.And more mud, and rain.  Finally the dirty snowbanks began to recede and a few early bulbs began to blossom.  Spring at last.Work in the shop was scant this month.  I missed two weeks with the flu.  I did mange to finish, oil and assemble the king size pencil post bed started in March. I also built a small outdoor bench made of cumaru, known as Brazilian teak (Dipteryx odorata).  The wood is super hard, and I hope to never have to work with it again.  However, it is also extremely decay resistant, so that bench will probably outlast me.The high point of the month was the annual Fine Woodworking Live 2019 gathering in Southbridge, MA.  We had a great lineup of presenters including Matt Bickford, Brian Boggs, Danielle Rose Byrd, Michael Fortune, Peter Galbert, Chris Gochnour, Garrett Hack, Nancy Hiller, Beth Ireland, Rollie Johnson, Joshua Klein, Tom McLaughlin, Steve Latta, Michael Pekovich, Christopher Schwarz, Bob Van Dyke and myself.  I gave the Friday evening opening talk about the Herbie Project.The Saturday banquet keynote address was by Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, past president of the North Bennet Street School.  His work while president, in moving the school to a new, larger and updated building and establishing a huge scholarship endowment, was really awe inspiring.

All in all a great weekend, thanks to the hard work and great organization of the FWW staff, the presenters, student exhibitors, and attendees.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

 

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March 2019

March is kind of a transition month in Maine. We go from deep winter to the beginning of spring in a matter of a few days or weeks. There were two snow storms at the start of the month, then … Continue reading

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February 2019

Mid winter, lots of snow, cold, rain, and more snow. Not more than 3″ to 12″ at a time, but lots of storms. That means cleaning the driveway each day, before I get to go to the shop.

Well, it wasn’t all bad weather. We had some sunny (and cold) days as well. It really is nice to walk through the woods on a clear winter day. The snow is full of deer, squirrel, porcupine, and snowshoe hare tracks. And an occasional fox.

It wouldn’t be February without Valentines Day. Even out here on a dirt road in New Gloucester, Maine, the Valentine’s Day Bandit left a heart on our porch. Much appreciated and enjoyed.

Between all the less than desirable weather and the effort keeping the driveway clear, I did get work done in the shop. The lectern I started in January was finally finished, gilded and delivered.

The better part of the month was taken up with the construction of a tall cupboard. The dimensions are the same as the Shaker original, only the wood and the panels have been changed. It is a really nice storage cabinet, yet takes only a foot and a half of floor space.

The next project, started on this last day of February, is a pair of Haystack arm chairs. Tomorrow I’m off to purchase a cow hide for the leather seats.

Don’t forget to also check out the my Instagram page for more goings on around the shop and the neighborhood. Lots of fun stuff going on.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

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January 2019

Each year seems to roll by a little faster than the last.  Here we are in 2019, late January, and it’s wicked cold.  Earlier this month we didn’t have much snow, so the skating was fantastic.  Went out a few times with my daughter on some of the lakes and ponds in the area.The ice was about 8″ thick.  More recently, we’ve had a few snowstorms, which brought the skating to a grinding halt.  It was fun while it lasted.  However, the snow is not bad either.  Makes everything look clean and bright.The big January event  was a trip to Kentucky, to do a dovetail workshop and book signing at Lost Art Press.  It was most enjoyable, meeting and re-connecting with some great people, good food and severely delicious bourbon.  Quite the catalog of books that Chris Schwarz has published.  I’m proud to be part of the select few authors.  While I was there, Chris, Megan and I took a day to visit the Pleasant Hill Shaker village.  Renovations were almost done, so there was almost no furniture, but the empty, clean rooms were astoundingly beautiful.The spiral stairs in the Trustees Office are always an eye catcher.  A matched set, in opposite directions on either side of the hall.  Magnificent.Back at home, the Maine Crafts Association   asked me to do a book signing at the new Maine Craft Portland gallery. The organization has done a marvelous job of  converting this old jewelry store. I brought a lamp, music stand, and a Shaker tea cabinet to display.  A nice afternoon.I did get a few things done in the shop.  First off, it was time to sharpen a few tools.  I dug out my four water stones, 220, 1000, 4000 and 8000 grit, and got to work.Once sharpened, I made a small wall mirror, a bit different this time. Instead of the square top with a slight curve on the inside, this mirror had a Gothic arch with a half round inside..  Turned out well.  Its hard to find delphiniums in Maine in January.Next up was a lectern.  It looks pretty simple, but looks can be deceiving. The side splay of the legs is slightly different than the front and back splay.  Add to that the angle of the work surface, and I had to make a full scale drawing to keep all the cuts straight.  Right now it’s almost done, just waiting for some gilding in the front, final glue up and oiling. 

While waiting, I’m starting the next project, a tall cupboard, one of my classics. If you get bored between monthly blogs, have a look at my Instagram site, which I update on a more regular basis.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

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